• Spain forced to reflect on racism

    A protest in Spain. The text reads: “Fire to racism”. Photo: EFE.

    If you are not from Spain, you probably don’t know that one prevailing Spanish characteristic is that we hate ourselves. While the French have their ‘chauvinism’ and the UK is still nostalgic for the spoils of its Empire, the Spanish keep flogging themselves.

    But there is a revisionist trend of trying to stir this spiritual self-sabotage. Into this scenario arrives the racist abuse against Real Madrid winger Vinicius Jr.

    A quick recap: On 21 May, during a La Liga match against Valencia, Vinícius Jr. was subjected to racial slurs from Valencia supporters. This incident incited a broader conversation on racism within La Liga.

    In Spain, there have been many — although sporadic — racist attacks against black football players. But the Vinicius Jr. case, given his and Real Madrid’s popularity, reached the foreign press. That is when the problems started.

    Spain must reflect on its racist attitudes. That’s a fact. Maybe not necessarily against black people (2.4% of the Spanish population), but mainly against other minorities, such as Arab, Roma or indigenous Latin Americans. The Spanish do not consider themselves racist, but evidence proves otherwise.

    But when we heard from the British press that the Spanish bid for the World Cup (with Portugal and Ukraine) may be in danger because of this incident, the reaction was uproar. We have been held us up against the mirror, and we didn’t like it. The British, the ones who exterminated the North American indigenous people, the ones that killed thousands in India… telling us that we’re racist?

    We were focusing on ‘how’ Spain was being scolded, and not examining the ‘why’. I understand that we don’t want to be told from outside, but the question is still real: is there place for racism in Spanish society? We should listen to our Spanish black, Roma or Arab communities, and maybe we’ll be surprised.

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